For some of us the fifth dimension is more than a parallel universe or the greatest band in history ("Aquarius" and "Up, Up and Away" make us swoon). Zigen (or jigen) means dimension, and 5Zigen (five dimensions) was established as a branch of Dijon Cars in May 1987 for what it calls "product development beyond time and space."
5Zigen's limitless approach to product development was born from the "race on Sunday, sell on Monday" strategy, as Dijon Cars is arguably the Penske of Japanese motorsports. Dijon's Team 5Zigen regularly assaults the Group-A class of the All-Japan Touring Car Championship; the All-Japan GT, F3, and F3000 Championships; and the N1 Endurance race. One of the team's recent accolades came last November when it clinched the '01 Formula Nippon Constructors Championship. In fact, Masaharu Kinoshita is not only the president of Dijon Cars but also one of the Team 5Zigen drivers.
Kinoshita-san's passion for performance extends to his project car selection. At the annual SEMA Show, where the goal is to stand out amidst a sea of glitter and gold lamé, 5Zigen always seems to show up with the car du jour. For the '99 edition, the 5Zigen crew debuted a tuned JDM S2000, following up with an Altezza racer in 2000. For 2001, the string of hits continued with 5Zigen's presentation of this Honda Integra Type R.
The SEMA field was filled with RSXs, and in between our hedonistic behavior at the buffets, clubs, and casinos, some select moments of lucidity allowed us to get the goods on these cars (see "RSX-Rated" on page 132). We must also give thanks to auto focus and the microcassette recorder, because our incoherent scribbles and handheld four-second "artistic" exposures didn't make much sense upon our return to the office. But the siren call of the JDM is all it takes to snap us from our haze, and the 5Zigen ITR was just what the doctor ordered.
The launch of the LA-DC5 chassis in July of last year signaled the end of the USDM Acura Integra. This new car would be known as the RSX, in order to align it with the rest of Acura's alphabet-soup model designations. In Japan the base-model DC5 Integra is called the iS, which parallels the U.S.-spec RSX. The two cars essentially share the same basic 2.0L, 160hp i-VTEC engine controlled with either a standard five-speed manual or an S-Matic autobox. The hotter 200hp Type-S (or GS-R replacement) is the alpha dog in the RSX lineup, but there is no word yet on a stateside DC5 Type R. God bless those maniacal Honda product planners in Japan for unleashing the R upon their own market. And this is exactly what we have here, as documented by Wes "Mr. Zoggs" Allison.
Tsuyoshi Inoue and Alex Chang of AKT USA brought the 5Zigen ITR to our shoot, fresh from its SEMA Show debut. Soon after this, the car was sent back to Japan to be displayed at the Tokyo Auto Salon. From there it will undergo further modifications in preparation for a competitive season in the N1 Plus class (including the N1 Endurance race). This little 'Teggy that could will also campaign in an Integra One-Make series. But what exactly did 5Zigen do to prep the ITR for both carpet-queen pageantry and racetrack combat?
Right out of the box the ITR makes 217 hp at 8,000 rpm and 152 lb-ft of torque at 6,500 rpm-great numbers, but still not enough for Team 5Zigen. The bottom end of the K20C was improved with forged pistons and rods from Toda Racing. Toda also supplied a lumpier set of high-lift camshafts. The ITR currently has a 5Zigen 4-2-1 stainless steel header leading to a Miracle Fire Ball stainless steel after-cat exhaust, but this system will be replaced with an even more free-flowing pure-race setup. A more aggressive engine-management system will also be employed for track duty.
Another goodie only found on the Type R is the torque induction-type helical LSD, even though 5Zigen will revise the gearing on the six-speed manual gearbox for the track. But the most intriguing feature of this car's drivetrain is the little white button resting atop the 5Zigen Formula shift knob. We wondered if it activated some sort of Flux Capacitor that would send us into the fifth dimension, allowing us to vanquish Biff Tannen once and for all. The button is actually part of 5Zigen's Twin Mode Clutch System. The TMCS is basically an addition to the existing stock hydraulic clutch. Once the system is activated (via an additional ECU), the button on the shifter replaces the clutch pedal-depressing the button is the same as depressing the clutch pedal. Both Tsuyoshi and Alex liken the TMCS to a semi-sequential shifter of sorts.
Type Rs have always been heralded for their handling prowess, and the DC5 employs the same advanced techniques to up the g's. In fact, this new ITR boasts a 35 percent improvement in bending rigidity and 116 percent better torsional rigidity when compared to the DC2 Type R. 5Zigen raised the bar even further with an Ennepetal damper kit and a prototype strut tower brace. The suspension will be redone with an even firmer setup for the track. The 17-inch Becketts wheels are shod with 215/45 Dunlop rubber, which is actually a spec tire for the Integra One-Make formula. There was no need to improve the stoppers, as the enticing four-piston Brembos are standard equipment on the R.
Even the aero parts on this car are no ordinary affair. The front and rear bumpers and side steps are ings GT-Spec offerings. These pieces are crafted from a unique hybrid fiberglass material that offers urethane-like flexibility without the weight (35 percent less than standard urethane). The carbon-fiber front bumper fins are also from ings, and while we're sure they serve some sort of aerodynamic purpose, we like them because they resemble something Machine-Gun Joe Viterbo would mount on his car. The GT-Wing atop the hatch is also a 5Zigen prototype.
Even the trademark Type R red Recaro buckets have been replaced with Bride Zeta IIs in the same blood-red hue. Driver and passenger are held in place with Takata four-point harnesses, while a 5Zigen F-350 steering wheel replaces the Type R tiller from MOMO. The seven-point rollcage is a prototype, which will be replaced with a weld-in 'cage to meet racing requirements. Additionally, the remaining interior pieces will be removed in order to save weight come race time.
Many of the showboats at SEMA and Tokyo will never set rubber upon a city street, not to mention a full-blown racetrack. With this in mind, 5Zigen's ITR is on a different plane, perhaps even a different dimension. Could this be the dawning of the Age of Aquarius?